The first time we tried to make pozole rojo, we became way too distracted during the process, and allowed the soup to simmer almost all of its liquid away. All that time, all those preparations, and we were basically stuck with a tragically reduced pot of braised pork in a thick red sauce. The disappointment was all over our faces and we were steaming as much as the dutch oven resting before us. Truth be told, our first impulse was to just throw it out and head to the nearest Tex Mex eatery for a bowl made correctly.
Luckily, common sense took over, and with the flavors still perfectly intact, we knew the perfect way to salvage it. Tacos! Down here in Texas there is no shortage of taquerias to provide endless inspiration and a reminder that almost anything can be turned into a taco. With that and mind, it was only a few moments before we were sitting in front of a pile of delicious pozole tacos, a couple of margaritas, and a yummy new recipe to use in the future.
12 dried red chilies
1 clove of garlic, whole (but peeled)
1 tsp of salt
2 lbs pork shoulder, boneless
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp of pepper
1 tsp of salt
2 strips of thick cut bacon, diced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups of water
4 cups chicken stock, unsalted
1 tbsp dried oregano, Mexican
1 bay leaf
2 cups of canned hominy
Sliced radish, shredded cabbage, finely diced
onions, diced avocado & diced jalapeno.
Cut the stems and remove the seeds from the dried chilies and place all 12 in a mixing bowl. Pour just enough boiling water to reach the tops of the peppers and place a small plate or bowl on top of them to keep them submerged. Soak for 30 minutes.
Rub the cumin, paprika, pepper and salt mix over the pork shoulder and set aside.
In a cold stock pot or dutch oven (5+ quarts), add the diced bacon, and bring the heat to a low medium allowing the fat to render. Remove and set aside on a paper towel just before the bacon starts to crisp. This will provide enough oil (2 tbsp) to cook the onions, garlic, and brown the pork. Don’t be afraid to add a little oil should the bacon not render enough.
Cook the onions until soft, approximately 5 minutes, and then add the garlic while stirring for another 2 minutes. Move the onions and garlic completely over to one side of the pot and then add the pork, fat side down first, and brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes.
While the pork is browning, add the dried peppers and its water to a blender with once clove of smashed garlic, and a teaspoon of salt. Blend thoroughly until smooth. Feel free to strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove any chunks.
Add 2 cups of water, 4 cups of chicken stock, and 1 cup of the blended chilies to the dutch oven. Bring to a simmer and then add the oregano and bay leaf (I also throw the bacon back in as well). At this point, you’ll just partially cover and allow to simmer for upwards to 3 hours. Flip the pork occasionally. I typically do that every 30-40 minutes. Don’t hesitate to add a little extra stock and reserved chilies puree if the liquid should reduce more quickly than anticipated.
After 3 hours, remove the pork and shred with a fork on a cutting board. Add it back to the pot with 2 cups of hominy, stir and cover again. At this point, unlike traditional pozole rojo, there won’t be much liquid left over. That’s ok! We’re making tacos, not soup. Cook down for another 40 minutes until almost all of the liquid is gone.
Once the liquid is almost entirely reduced, remove from heat and serve with fresh tortillas and toppings of your choice. Since it’s pozole, we stick with radish, onion, cabbage, and avocado. Oh, and you can’t forget the fresh cilantro!
(Helpful Hint – We used the Serious Eats method for warming the tortillas)